WHAT IS DIABETES?
I guess we’ve all heard at some point in our lives about diabetes, but not all of us know about its symptoms or how our bodies react to it. It is a metabolic disease that causes excessive blood glucose (hyperglycemia). This disease is incurable and once diagnosed requires lifelong treatment.
There is also a special and rare form of this disease, developed by some women. This is called “gestational diabetes” and usually lasts only during pregnancy. Diabetes is different from “kidney diabetes”, a term that means the presence of excess glucose in the urine, but not in the blood.
There are two main types of diabetes, which are differentiated by the mechanism of onset. Overall, any form of diabetes is due to insufficient insulin in the body. Insulin is the hormone that introduces blood glucose into the cells for use. In type 1 diabetes, insulin is completely absent, and in type 2 diabetes, it is reduced and/or less effective.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and its onset is unrelated to external factors. For type 2 diabetes, obesity is the main factor that increases the risk of developing this disease.
Diabetes treatment involves several components. Proper diet and physical activity ensure a constant blood glucose level and better insulin action. Oral treatment is often recommended for people with type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, as well as some forms of type 2 diabetes, are treated with insulin, which is injected by the patients under their skin several times a day.
Here are 15 diabetes symptoms you shouldn’t ignore:
1. Frequent urination
Frequent urination can be caused by a urinary tract infection or excessive fluid intake. However, if you urinate frequently without finding yourself in either situation, you may have diabetes.
In diabetes cases, the kidneys are overworked because the body strives to eliminate excess glucose through urine.
2. Excessive thirst
This symptom is usually associated with the previous one. As the body eliminates urine, the thirst intensifies due to the need to replace lost fluids.
3. Dry mouth
Excessive dry mouth is very unpleasant and can signal the presence of serious health problems. In addition to suggesting that you are dehydrated, this symptom may indicate that you have type 2 diabetes.
In addition, an excessively dry mouth creates an environment conducive to the proliferation of bacteria, increasing the risk of developing gum infections and dental problems.
4. Excessive fatigue
Excessive or chronic fatigue is a symptom that should never be ignored. Although it is natural to feel tired due to physical or mental overload, the feeling of fatigue may also indicate that the cells are not supplied with enough glucose.
Fatigue can also be maintained by frequent urination, including at night, which interrupts sleep and, in the long run, it can be extremely exhausting.
5. Excessive appetite
Feeling hungry can be caused by both hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). The cause of this diabetes symptom is that the cells do not receive the optimal amount of sugar. They send alert signals to the brain, and the affected person becomes hungry.
6. Vision disorders
The eyes are the organs most affected by diabetes. High blood sugar affects the retina, causing blurred vision. Sometimes there are flashes of light that impede proper vision. If you suffer from diabetes and do not get proper treatment, the risk of developing irreversible vision problems or losing your sight completely is very high.
Bacteria, viruses and fungi grow more easily in glucose-rich environments, so diabetes increases the frequency of infections of any kind. Diabetics often develop vaginal, skin or urinary tract infections.
8. Numbness or tingling in the extremities
Tingling and numbness are the effect of nerve damage due to diabetes. Both sensations can be recurrent and are often accompanied by pain and inflammation. If the disease is not controlled, the nerve damage can become permanent, which has dramatic consequences.
9. Weight gain/loss
Weight loss or weight gain may be a consequence of the body’s inability to use insulin. Diabetes prevents the cells from supplying glucose, which is why the body uses muscle proteins to get energy. Diabetes can also significantly increase appetite, especially sweets, which leads to weight gain.
You may need a scale to keep track of your weight!
10. Wounds are difficult to heal
Diabetes causes blood vessels to degrade. As a result, the body will no longer be able to heal small cuts and scratches as quickly. Excess glucose affects the veins and arteries, reducing their ability to carry blood to the cells to heal the lesions.
11. Irritability, lack of concentration
Glucose is one of the main sources of food for the brain. In the absence of insulin, the cells can no longer carry glucose from the blood to the brain; and that’s why lack of concentration can be a sign of diabetes.
12. Itching and dry skin
Diabetes can affect the blood circulation in the body, so the glands become dysfunctional and make your skin dry and itchy. But still, if you’re experiencing itchy and dry skin, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically a diabetic.
13. Potency issues
Statistics show that up to 70% of men with diabetes have potency problems. The reason: diabetes affects the blood vessels and nerve endings in the genital area, which makes performance difficult. For women, vaginal dryness occurs.
14. Areas of red, yellow, or brown skin
The condition begins with the appearance of small papules (wrinkles of the skin that are felt when you run your hand over them) that look like some type of acne. As they evolve, these papules turn into hardened plaques and the skin in these areas thickens. The tiles can be red, yellow or brown. They may be accompanied by:
• shiny porcelain look of the surrounding skin;
• visible superficial blood vessels;
• itching or even pain.
15. Hard, thickened skin
The appearance of hard and thickened skin on the fingers or toes is called digital sclerosis. On the back of the hands, the skin looks waxy and the movements of the fingers can become difficult. The marks can extend to the forearms and arms, to the chest, shoulders, neck and even to the face.
In rare cases, there is the thickening of the skin on the knees, ankles and elbows, thus affecting the mobility and the movements of the patients (they can no longer straighten the leg or bend the arm). Thickened skin areas almost always have an “orange peel” appearance.
This skin condition usually occurs in people who already suffer from other complications of diabetes or whose treatment is ineffective. It can also be the beginning signs of diabetes. Better control of diabetes can also lead to an improvement in skin thickening. Patients with this problem may also benefit from physiotherapy to regain joint mobility.
Now that above we’ve listed fifteen of the most common diabetes symptoms, it’s extremely important to remind you that this disease can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Also, some very good advice is to maintain a healthy weight and to avoid smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and diets rich in saturated fats, sugars and processed foods. It’s extremely important to be aware of the severity of this disease and to keep in mind that diabetes doesn’t forgive anybody and if you have any of the symptoms enumerated above, you need to immediately see a doctor.